Chelsea: An English Country Garden Tour

Chelsea: An English Country Garden Tour

Ten days in England touring various English country  gardens ending with a visit to the Chelsea Flower Show.


Day 1 & 2.  London – RHS gardens at Wisley –  Losely Park Gardens – Claverton Country House in Battle

Day 3. Rye – GREAT DIXTER – Hastings


Day 5. Winchester  – West Green house and garden – Mere, Wiltshire – Stourhead Gardens – Spread Eagle Inn, Stourton.

Day 6. Cotswolds – Bourton House Garden 

Day 7. Chipping Campden – Hidcote Manor Garden – Kiftsgate Court Garden – White Hart Royal Hotel, Moreton In Marsh

Day 8. BLENHEIM PALACE – Bourton-on–the- water

Day 9. Return to London

Day 10. Full day tour of the Chelsea Flower Show. Flight Home to South Africa

Tour Details

Day 1:
Overnight flight to London. Some of you will be in London and other flying in that morning.

Day 2
Arrive in London. We will meet at Terminal 2 at Café Nero. I am arriving on the Sunday so will pick up the 8 seater VW minivan. We will take a leisurely drive to the RHS gardens at Wisley. I have arranged for a private tour of the gardens with one of the garden staff. The Horticultural Society was given Wisley in 1903, although at that time only a small part of the 24-ha (60-acre) estate was actually set aside as a garden, the remainder being wooded farmland.

The original garden was the creation of George Ferguson Wilson – businessman, scientist, inventor and keen gardener and a former Treasurer of the Society. In 1878 he purchased the site and established the ‘Oakwood experimental garden’, with the idea of making ‘difficult plants grow successfully’.


  • 8 x night’s accommodation sharing/Single supplement
  • Breakfast daily
  • Entrance fees to all gardens
  • Tickets to Chelsea Flower Show on Members Day
  • Private vehicle
  • Specialist tour guide


  • Domestic and International Flights
  • Visas
  • Meals not included above and all drinks
  • Excursions not listed
  • Gratuities

Please note:

  • Cost is subject to confirmation at time of booking due to currency fluctuations and availability of accommodation
  • Travel insurance is highly recommended
  • A deposit is due upon confirmation of booking
  • Cost is based on a minimum of 6 people travelling

Land package ONLY and does not include:
International air tickets, insurance, meals unless noted, items of a personal nature and extra hotel charges.
Please note your Passport must be valid for at least 6 months after your return flight.
South African passport holders require a British visa.

Please enquire for latest prices

The garden acquired a reputation for its collections of lilies, gentians, Japanese irises, primulas and water plants. The present Wild Garden at Wisley is the direct descendant of Oakwood and despite changes is still true to the original concept.

Lunch at a local pub: The Anchor


After lunch we will travel through to Loseley Park gardens Comparable with gardens considered national treasures, the Walled Garden covers 2.5 acres and is divided into ‘rooms’ each with its own unique planting scheme and personality.

There’s the Rose garden with over one thousand bushes, the Flower Garden with its maze of pathways and hidden corners and the White Garden that contrasts spectacular, showy, blooms with lush yet subtle silver and grey foliage.

Then there is the extensive Herb Garden, the Organic Vegetable Garden with its unusual varieties and, just outside the walls, the wildflower meadow – a haven of calm and tranquility.

Overnight at the Claverton Country House in Battle.

Day 3
After breakfast we start the day with a journey south to Rye in East Sussex to GREAT DIXTER, the family home of the late Christopher Lloyd, who had devoted his lifetime to creating one of the most experimental, exciting and constantly changing gardens of our time.

Incorporating many medieval buildings, the gardens surround the house, each complementing the other.

The original house at Dixter, which dates from the mid-15th century, was acquired by a businessman named Nathaniel Lloyd in 1909. He had a 16th century house in a similar style moved from Kent and the two were combined with new work by the architect Edwin Lutyens to create a much larger house, which was rechristened Great Dixter. 

Nathaniel Lloyd and Lutyens began the garden at Great Dixter, but it was Nathaniel’s son Christopher Lloyd, a well-known garden writer and television personality, who made it famous. The garden is in the arts and crafts style, and features topiary, a long border, an orchard and a wild flower meadow. The planting is profuse, yet structured, and has featured many bold experiments of form, colour and combination. The garden is currently managed by Fergus Garrett, who worked closely with Lloyd up until his death in 2006 where they were constantly experimenting at this great garden which no garden enthusiast should miss. Fergus will give us a private tour of the gardens which will be fantastic.     (www.greatdixter.co.uk)

After lunch we will drive to Hastings. The Battle of Hastings was fought on 14 October 1066 between the Norman-French army of William, the Duke of Normandy, and an English army under the Anglo-Saxon King Harold Godwinson, beginning the Norman conquest of England. Today peaceful with wild flowers and birdsong, this evocative landscape once played host to thousands of men, fighting for the future of king and country. Explore the battlefield and picture it full of life (and death) on the day that England’s history changed forever. The Anglo-Saxons held the ridge – now under the abbey buildings – whilst the Norman invaders attacked. Follow the full course of the battle with our audio guide, and special children’s version. See the impressive new wood carved sculpture trail. During wet weather, a shorter route along the terrace provides views out over the battlefield landscape and allows visitors to listen to the audio tour from a more comfortable vantage point. Explore the atmospheric ruins of William the Conqueror’s famous abbey. Stand on the very spot where King Harold is said to have died. Admire the stonework and acoustics of the 13th century rib-vaulted dormitory range, including the Novices Common Room. You can now also climb the staircase to explore the first floor too. This room was used to record a live performance of Sovereign Light Café by Keane.

It took place approximately 7 miles (11 kilometres) northwest of Hastings, close to the present-day town of Battle, East Sussex, and was a decisive Norman victory.

Overnight at the Claverton Country House in Battle.

Day 4
After breakfast we will travel to County Kent where we will visit Sissinghurst Castle Garden.  The internationally famous SISSINGHURST CASTLE GARDEN was created by Vita Sackville-West and her husband, Sir Harold Nicolson.

A romantic garden around a slender brick-built castle tower, this is one of the most enjoyed visits on any tour. In the words of its creator Vita Sackville-West: “Profusion, even extravagance and exuberance within the confines of the utmost linear severity”. Connoisseur’s gardens are divided by walls and hedges into enclosed gardens around the remains of an Elizabethan mansion. Famous for its roses in June & July, its white herb & cottage gardens and lakeside walks.

Overnight at the Claverton Country House in Battle.


Day 5
After breakfast we check out of the hotel and head west towards Mere, Wiltshire to visit Stourhead Gardens. On the way we will stop for a walk through Winchester. Winchester is a city in the county of Hampshire, on the edge of England’s South Downs National Park. It’s known for medieval Winchester Cathedral, with its 17th-century Morley Library, the Winchester Bible and a Norman crypt. Nearby are the ruins of Wolvesey Castle and the Winchester City Mill, a working 18th-century corn mill. The Great Hall of Winchester Castle houses the medieval round table linked to King Arthur.

After lunch we will continue through to West Green house and garden.  Nestling in a woodland corner of Hampshire is this ravishingly attractive 1720′s manor house, where busts of gods, emperors and dukes now framed with roses, watch over the gardens.

West Green House Gardens demonstrate how creative energy is poured into garden making. It is a garden with a special and distinctive sense of place, made by Marylyn Abbott selected as one of the top 20 living garden makers by Stephen Lacey for the Telegraph. He writes “her swash buckling annual potage displays, fountain gardens and torch lit operas reflect her energy and zest. Through her books she has pumped fresh air and sparkle into the world of period gardening”

The garden combines neo-classical style with contemporary design. A grand water staircase provides a focal point to the Nymphaeum Fountain designed by architect Quinlan Terry. The magnificent Walled Garden, faithfully restored to its original lines, is entered through an arbor of wisteria. An allee of apple trees divides its elaborate potager with its berry filled fruit cages, annual flowers and colourful vegetables from its signature perennial borders exuberantly planted in subtle hues of mauve, plum and blue. Beyond the walls is the Lakefield carpeted in the spring with fritillaries and daffodils and which embraces one of England’s most eclectic collections of garden follies. A path leads from the serenity of the lake to the Paradise Water Garden and contemporary Garden of the Five nexium online pharmacy Bridges with its serpentine ribbon of Iris sibirica crossed by chinoiserie inspired bridges. It meanders on through a woodland glade to the terraced Theatre Lawn surrounded by tall tapestry hedges. It offers four seasons of beauty, contrast and inspiration, with its stunning planting, dazzling colour and touch of humour.

We continue onto Mere, Wiltshire and Stourhead garden. This 1072 HA estate, created by Henry Hoare 11was the family Harry Hoare family garden. The lakeside paths take you on a journey of concealment, and surprise, with glimpses of classical temples, mystical grottoes and breathtaking views both into the garden and out into the wider countryside. You will be amazed by the collection of rare and champion trees and plants, set around a central lake which glistens with their reflections.

Overnight at the Spread Eagle Inn, Stourton.

Day 6
The next 3 days will be spent in the Cotswolds. The Cotswolds is a rural area of south central England covering parts of 6 counties, notably Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire. It’s rolling hills and grassland harbour thatched medieval villages, churches and stately homes built of distinctive local yellow limestone. The 102-mile Cotswold Way walking trail follows the Cotswold Edge escarpment from Bath in the south to Chipping Campden in the north.

After an early walk through Stourhead Garden we will have a leisurely breakfast then take a slow drive through to the Cotswold’s. After lunch we will visit Bourton House Garden. An award winning three acre garden surrounding an 18th century manor house and Grade 1 listed 16th century tithe barn.  Stunning herbaceous borders, imaginative topiary including a knot garden, parterre and topiary walk. Water features, unusual shade house and many creatively planted pots. Unusual and exotic plants make this a plants man paradise.

Overnight – White Hart Royal Hotel, Moreton In Marsh

Day 7
After breakfast we will visit one of the true great gardens of England called Hidcote Garden. Hidcote Manor Garden is a garden in the United Kingdom, located at the village of hidcote Bartrim, near Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire. It is one of the best-known and most influential Arts and Crafts gardens in Britain, with its linked “rooms” of hedges, rare trees, shrubs and Herbaceous borders.

Created by Lawrence Johnston who was influenced in creating his garden at Hidcote by the work of Alfred Parsons and Gertrude Jekyll, who were designing gardens of hardy plants contained within sequences of outdoor “rooms”. The theme was in the air: Hidcote’s outdoor “rooms” have various characters and themes, achieved by the use of box hedges, hornbeam and yew, and stone walls. These rooms, such as the ‘White Garden’ and ‘Fuschia Garden’ are linked, some by vistas, and furnished with topiaries. Some have ponds and fountains, and all are planted with flowers in bedding schemes. They surround the 17th century manor house, and there are a number of outhouses and a kitchen garden.

Johnston’s care in selecting the best plants is reflected in the narrow-leaved lavender, Lavandula angustifolia ‘Hidcote’, in the Penstemon’Hidcote Pink’ and in the hybrid Hypericum ‘Hidcote Gold’, acclaimed as the finest hardy St John’s.

After lunch we visit Kiftsgate Court Garden. Perched on the edge of the Cotswolds with wonderful views to the west, the gardens of Kiftsgate reflect gardening through the 20th century. The original garden around the house is planted in colour themes separated by yew hedges. The sheltered lower gardens and pol were added later to create a Mediterranean atmosphere. A contemporary water garden has recently been added.

Overnight – White Hart Royal Hotel, Moreton In Marsh

Day 8
After breakfast we visit one of Britain’s Greatest Palace BLENHEIM PALACE where you will be inspired by the majesty of the Palace, with its carvings by Grinling Gibbons, delighted by the interior filled with treasures and intrigued by the apartments devoted to Sir Winston Churchill. There are gardens in a variety of styles, an adventure play area for children and even a narrow-gauge railway to take you from car park to the Palace.

Blenheim Palace was built for the National Hero John 1st Duke of Marlborough and his Duchess Sarah, given by Queen Anne as a gift in reward for his military services.

The palace was built between 1705 and 1722. The architect chosen to complete this task was Sir John Vanbrugh and his clerk of works Hawksmoor, who had already proved their ability with the masterly designs for Greenwich Hospital and Castle Howard. Set in glorious parkland, Blenheim can be exciting to look at in all seasons

And is the supreme example of English Baroque architecture.


We will drive through to Bourton-on–the- water for lunch and a walk through this quaint little town. The village of Bourton-on-the-Water is known for its picturesque High Street, flanked by long wide greens and the River Windrush that runs through them. The river is crossed by several low, arched stone bridges. These arched bridges have led to Bourton-on-the-Water being called the “Venice of the Cotswolds”.

Overnight – White Hart Royal Hotel, Moreton In Marsh

Day 9
Leisurely drive to London with visits to places of interest along the way. I need to drop the vehicle off at Heathrow once I have dropped you at the hotel.

Overnight – Montagu Place or Similiar

Day 10 
Full day tour of the Chelsea Flower Show. 

Transfer to airport for flight home


Day 11
Arrive back in South Africa

Comments are closed.